Indiana West Abandoned Mine Land Site
Reclamation progress is underway at the “Indiana West” Abandoned Mine Land (AML) site in Marion County! Pathfinders, in partnership with the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), received a $100,000 Watershed Cooperative Agreement grant from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining to help fund the reclamation of Indiana West.
The reclamation will take place on land owned by Joel and Saren Johnson, Les Fee, Jason Jones, and Rick Seward. “The abandoned mines are a scar on the land. They pose a number of problems including environmental and safety hazards. I am excited to see the land restored to its original grades, even though I do hold some concerns about the long term sustainability of the slopes,” says Joel Johnson, landowner. As Joel indicates, the soil on these sites is fragile and will continue to be so after reclamation.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Division of Soil Conservation coordinates and oversees construction and the Red Rock Environmental Education Fund assists with community outreach and education. The Indiana West site is 40 acres and located near the City of Bussey. Construction activities have been progressing since March. Reclamation will address acid mine drainage from the site that has been negatively affecting a tributary to North Cedar Creek.
Conservation Easement Placed on 132 Acre Tracht Farm
On May 23rd
, Pathfinders RC&D sold its 132 acre Tracht Farm to Aaron and Alysia Countryman. The Countrymans worked with Pathfinders and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) to establish a conservation easement so the land will continue to be maintained for wildlife habitat and alternative crops.
INHF is a 501c3 non-profit with a mission to protect and restore Iowa's land, water and wildlife. A conservation easement is a permanent agreement between a landowner and a conservation group, such as INHF, in which the landowner retains ownership while voluntarily restricting some land uses that could damage the site’s conservation values. INHF is required to monitor the site annually to ensure that the property is being managed in accordance with agreed upon terms. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has completed 178 conservation easements that have protected more than 21,900 acres. This type of conservation easement now on Tracht Farm does not allow public access to the property.
In 1991, Clarence and Ruth Tracht gifted the land to Pathfinders to conserve and enhance soil, woodland, wildlife and water resources. Over the past 27 years, the land has served as a demonstration area for wildlife and woodland management, organic farming, aquaculture, and wildlife plantings. It has also been the venue for educational meetings and workshops. Most of the land is forested or planted in native grasses.
To ensure Pathfinders will continue to be able to support the needs and desires of people living in Southeast Iowa, the organization will use funds from the sale to start an endowment. The Board of Directors is committed to the long term viability of the organization’s community work, with current priorities including community development, water quality and soil health, and housing.
“We are honored to have cared for this beautiful land for so long and are thrilled to see it transfer to the hands of a conscientious neighbor,” says Anna Bruen, Pathfinders’ Executive Director, “The Countryman’s conservation easement solidifies the Tracht’s environmental conservation legacy and gives us confidence that the land will be well stewarded into the future.”
June & July – Southeast Iowa County Fairs
Summer is here and don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate your community at the county fair!
- Davis County: July 17-22 BLOOMFIELD
- Jefferson County: June 25-July 2 FAIRFIELD
- Keokuk County: July 13-15 WHAT CHEER
- Southern Iowa (Mahaska): July 16-21 OSKALOOSA
- Van Buren County: July 15-23 KEOSAUQUA
- Wapello: June 13-17 ELDON
Kids Learn About Soil Health at Grass-fed Beef Booth at Barnyard Bash
Pathfinders was excited to share information about grass-fed beef at the 2018 Barnyard Bash in Fairfield this month. The event, hosted by the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, was held at the Maasdam Barns- a historical site with a museum that Pathfinders helped secure grants for the restoration and rehabilitation of almost a decade ago.
At Pathfinders’ booth, adults and kids alike learned about the health, soil, and water quality benefits of raising cattle on pasture while playing games like, “Pin the Grass on the Cow”, and “Cow Pie Toss.” Pictured to the right are participants enjoying their prizes: conservation themed temporary tattoos!
Museum Crawl Highlights on the Historic Hills Scenic Byway
Thank you to the over 100 people who attended the 5th Annual Southeast Iowa Museum Crawl! It was a sweltering day on June 16th, but folks had a lot of fun at the Monroe County Historical Museum, the Wabash Depot Museum Complex, the Appanoose County Historical & Coal Mining Museum and the Moulton Historical Society Museum on the Western end of the Byway!
A special thank you to our Byway businesses who provided donations for our Museum Crawl Gift Basket: Lee Burningham at Bonaparte Pottery for donating a handmade ceramic pot; Blackboard Printing Company for donating a cookbook and handmade zipper pouch; The American Gothic House for donating a coffee mug and sticker; and Honey Creek Resort for donating a one night stay with two breakfasts at their lodge.
Congratulations to Tammy Phillips, our Museum Crawl Gift Basket winner, who visited all four museums and submitted her fully punched passport into our drawing! See you next year!